Sunday, July 29, 2012

Birding Doi Inthanon

On my last free day before the elephant portion of the trip I hired a birding guide and we went up the highest mountain in Thailand.

After having birded in Central American tropics I was disappointed by how few birds we saw.  It looked like a tropical forest but the birds just weren't there.  There is just too much deforestation in the area.  The area used to have a lot of teak trees but they sold for too much money and they have been removed.  And it used to be easy and profitable to grow poppies for opium.  Now there are better laws and the forests are coming back but the wildlife lags behind.

My birding guide has bought up several acres of land and planted it with teak trees.  They won't be  harvestable in her lifetime but perhaps her children or her grandchildren will be able to profit from them.

Doi Inthanon (Doi means mountain) used to be called Doi Anh Ka (the place where the crow baths, roughly).  Back them Thailand was two different countries - Lannathai (now northern Thailand) and Siam (now southern Thailand).  King Inthawichayanon of Lannathai was concerned that the British might take over his country so he sent his daughter south to be married to the King of Siam, thus united the two countries against a possible British invasion.

King Inthawichayanon loved the mountains and upon his death his cremated remains were interred near the top of the highest mountain, which was then renamed in his honor.  Fortunately for us foreigners they used a shortened version of his name.

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